'It's a shame': F1 champion's bold stance on sporting boycotts

Chris Young
·Sports Reporter
·2-min read
Six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton is pictured during a press conference.
Six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton has ruled out a boycott of this weekend's Belgian GP. (Photo by DPPI/Pool via Getty Images)

Reigning F1 champion Lewis Hamilton has ruled out a boycott of this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix in the wake of snap strike action taken by athletes in several US-based sporting leagues.

The NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks prompted a wave of teams and athletes refusing to play on Thursday to protest the police shooting of Wisconsin man Jacob Blake, a Black man who was shot seven times in the back by police at point blank range.

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Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer and the WNBA teams all took similar action to the NBA’s playoff teams in refusing to play on Thursday and Friday, in a bid to put pressure on elected officials to enact meaningful police reform.

Hamilton, Formula One’s only Black driver, said he supported his American colleague’s in their action, but said he was not convinced a similar course of action from himself would achieve anything.

“It's incredible what many out there in the States are doing within their sports, all the way down to the people who are hosting,” Hamilton said.

“So many people are standing with the players and really pushing for change.

“I haven't spoken to anyone about it but I am really proud of so many out there and I do stand unified with them.

“I don't really know how us not doing the race is a thing. But I will try and speak to F1 to see what else we can do to continue to raise awareness and help push.

“And as a sport we all need to be aligned and supporting one another, even though it is a different sport.”

Lewis Hamilton leads F1’s response to racism

The six-time F1 champion has been the leader of Formula One’s response to continued protests over racial inequality and police brutality directed at minorities.

The majority of F1’s 20 drivers have taken a knee during the national anthem prior to each race, led by Hamilton.

Hamilton’s long-time rival, Ferrari veteran Sebastian Vettel, said the whole grid remained firmly behind the push to address racial inequality.

Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel are pictured fist-bumping prior to the Spanish Grand Prix.
Rival drivers Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel are united in continuing to protest racial injustice during Formula One events. (Photo by Albert Gea/Pool via Getty Images)

“We sent a strong message after the first event and our feeling was very clear that we wanted to continue sending that message," he said.

"It is one of those things that does not go away overnight.

"How long will we continue? There is no answer to that. It is important to keep sending the message and that's what we will continue to do."